The New Orleans Pelicans have a lot to gain by waiting to trade Anthony Davis, including a shot at Zion Williamson.
The Anthony Davis trade saga has been one of the most compelling storylines the NBA has seen in some time. Earlier in the day on Monday it seemed as though the New Orleans Pelicans were very close to sending Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, until a further report from Adrian Wojnarowski that night described a faction in the Pelicans front office as wanting to wait.
That faction is a smart one. New Orleans has a lot to gain from waiting to trade Davis. Before getting to that, though, in fairness there is appeal in getting it over with and making the deal before Thursday’s trade deadline. Like ripping off a band-aid, trading a franchise player is not the kind of experience that feels better when it’s drawn out.
Too bad. Unlike ripping off a band-aid, this decision will shape the future of the New Orleans Pelicans franchise for the next decade. The consequences go far beyond a minor inconvenience for a little while. This trade is not something that should be influenced by the franchise not wanting to deal with an awkward situation for a few months.
The importance of Davis, and moving him, is why New Orleans needs to wait. Giving the Boston Celtics a chance to make an offer is nice, but with Davis’ camp and father apparently so against the Celtics New Orleans probably won’t see Boston’s best stuff. (Although, Kevin Garnett said something eerily similar when he was still a Timberwolf.)
In addition to the Celtics getting to use their stash of goodies, the Pelicans will have more clarity on exactly how good the 2019 draft picks any team could offer will be if they wait until the summer. Thanks to NBA Draft reform, top lottery slots are worth less than ever. The worst team in the NBA will only have a 14 percent chance at the first overall pick.
In this draft especially, the difference between first and second is a massive gulf. Zion Williamson is the unanimous first pick and has been for months, and he has the makings of a franchise player who would bring tremendous energy wherever he goes. Even though he has yet to play an NBA game, New Orleans should absolutely be targeting Zion as one of their most desired assets in this deal.
As Woj tweeted Monday, the Pelicans want a player with an All-NBA ceiling in return for their own All-NBA mainstay. None of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, or Kyle Kuzma offer the tantalizing upside that Zion does, and three nice players don’t approach the value of one exceptional one.
The New Orleans Pelicans cannot allow themselves to get bullied into taking a deal early that doesn’t net them the proper return. Davis’ camp is obviously trying to push him to the Lakers, but there will be plenty of teams interested in acquiring him, the list be damned. The Pelicans need to wait until they can get a player with that clear All-NBA ceiling before pulling the trigger.
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